Remember Russell Crowe in “The Insider”? The film was a dramatic representation of the cigarette industry efforts to influence public opinion and promote the sale of cigarettes. Matt Damon is trying to do something similar with regards to shale gas exploration, or fracking, in the 2012 film “Promised Land”.
“Fracking” is the process of pumping a mixture of water, chemicals and sand at very high pressure into the bottom of a borehole to fracture the shale which will enable natural gas to escape. There are questions about environmental effects and risk of groundwater pollution and earthquakes, but it is an alternative to the conventional energy supply based on traditional oil exploration.
I cannot vouch for the quality of the movie, as I do not think it has already been released in Europe, and the Wikipedia description of the plot is rather syrupy, but apparently the story is woven around the question of whether a local community should allow exploration of shale gas to take place in their backyard.
The film is very timely, in view of the discussions about energy in Europe.
Louise Gray from the UK Telegraph had this to say last week. She reports that the British Geological Survey will announce that the UK shale gas reserve is much larger than was estimated a few years ago. The original 2011 report from the Geological Survey can be found here: http://www.bgs.ac.uk/shalegas/.
Whether Britain will go ahead with industrial scale shale gas exploration is not yet sure, but Ms Gray also reports that the latest UK budget has tax incentives to encourage exploration. Bloomberg reported last February that Germany has also agreed to go ahead, but France, on the other hand has banned the practice until further notice. Fracking is already well established in the USA.
Do I worry? The precautionary principle makes me want to hold off, but the authorities claim that problems in the past were due to shoddy practices, not to the operations per se. Why can we not invest more in renewables?
What do you think?